Recently I purchased an aged variety of cigar readily available in the US market to see if there other cigars out there that the average US aficionado could enjoy at reasonable prices. Macanudo has always been a popular smoke, and I went on Cigar.com’s website to make my choice. I give a tip of the cap to Sean O. and Andy D. at Cigar.com for their assistance in processing my order. Customer service was impeccable and these guys were immensely helpful in processing my requests. I purchased all three vitolas available — Perfecto, Toro and Robusto, and since they all were basically the same cigar, my comments are directed at all three configurations.
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's ("FDA") Center for Tobacco Products released their 499 page final rule that would deem additional tobacco products subject to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, as amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Under today's release, premium cigars have been deemed and will be subjected to the "option 1" regulatory framework, which in some respects treats premium cigars in harsher terms than that of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
What does it mean? The main takeaway is that all cigars released after Aug 6 2016 will have to be submitted for approval before they are allowed to the market. Costs and delays of this approval procedure remain unknown.
Charlie Minato from Halfwheel published a great article covering the consequences of this decision in more details. Let's not forget that this is not necessarily the end for the cigar industry, as we can still fight and adapt.
Today we are publishing a guest quick smoke review from our long-time reader, Beneluxor! Enjoy.
Dutch company Balmoral dates back to the 1890s, and is distinctive in Europe for having both very popular ranges of short-filler machine-made slightly upscale cigars - like their 'Sumatra' line using Indonesian Java - Sumatra, Brazilian & Havana Remedios tobaccos - but also 5 lines of hand-rolled premium cigars, including this Royal Selection Maduro, which has quite won me over as a great favourite, one of the most satisfying maduro cigars out there.
A long-filler cigar hand-rolled in the Dominican Republic (Balmoral is part of Agio now), the wrapper is sweet dark Arapiraca from Brazil, the binder Dominican Olor, and the filler from both Brazil & the Dominican Republic.
The Balmoral Royal Maduro Panatela here is a unique elegant vitola, 37 ring rauge (14.68mm), and 139mm (5 1/2 inches) long. A great virtue of slender cigars is that the flavour impact of the wrapper can be heightened dramatically, as happens in smoking these lovely sticks.
It's an exciting cigar, rewarding with wonderful explosions of flavours suggesting dark chocolate & espresso, rich but not over-strong, and tends to be very tasty well into the final third. It draws easily and makes nice ash. The amount of flavour burst can vary during the smoke and cigar-to-cigar, but generally stays in the upper end of flavour richness for maduros. The Balmoral Royal is for me, the top maduro value.
A singularly stylish & good-looking cigar too with the wrapper, the well-balanced sizing & the striking green cigar band, it's not too pricey (around € 6,50 in my neighbourhood). With tobacco from their former Indonesian realms, the Dutch became great masters of the cigar business, and with this stick it's clear that they still organise the making of great cigars today.
The Alec Bradley Sanctum uses tobacco from four different countries to deliver an experience which is fairly unique in the Alec Bradley catalogue. Whereas most cigars in the brand’s catalogue have an earthy flavor profile, this one is distinctly different. It was developed under the direct supervision of executive vice president Ralph Montero. The name “Sanctum” is meant to indicate that this is a cigar which is best enjoyed in solitude. An experience with Sanctum is a way of “getting away from it all.” Does it live up to its name? Let’s find out.
If you are familiar with Elements of Islay, you can recognize their distinctive bottles and labels from a mile away. Elements is a series of single malt releases, each one produced by a different distillery in Islay. The bottles are made to look like those you might find in a chemistry lab. Each one has a symbol on the label which is presented like a chemical element, but it is actually a code for a specific distillery, for example “Lp” for Laphroaig.
This makes “Peat” an unusual entry into the series, since “Peat” is obviously not a specific distillery. Let’s see how this blended malt whisky measures up.
In the bottle, “Peat’ is very pale gold in color, one of the lightest whiskies I have tried. The label is the classic Elements of Islay design, with “Peat” written in the same clear font as the “chemical symbols” denoting the distilleries of the other whiskies in the line. It’s a very eye-catching design, and one I really love.
Opening the bottle, I smell exactly what I expect: peat, and lots of it. There is also a clean citrus note, very bright. I pick up something flowery and sweet and a hint of hay and smoke or ash. The sweet smell on closer examination seems like it is probably vanilla. All in all, more complexity than I expected from something simply named “Peat.”
The flavor is again is exactly what you would expect given the name and the scents. You get a strong wave of peat, coupled with some hay and pepper notes (the pepper caught me a bit off guard; I picked it up on the nose, but it was hotter than I thought it would be). The pepper is woven into a medley of cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. The clean, bright citrus note is distinctively present, and the finish is very peaty. Only now do I pick up the vanilla along with that ash or smoke flavor. The peat is definitely in the “medicinal” flavor area.
You can pick up a bottle of Elements of Islay “Peat” for around 35 GBP. That is a reasonable price for a solid whisky. Peat is something which draws up strong reactions from whisky-drinkers; some love it, others detest it, and others still like some peat flavors but cannot stand others. If you like “medicinal” tasting peat, you will probably really like Elements of Islay “Peat.” While it is not the most complex whisky you will ever try, the citrus notes and spices save it from being overly simplistic.
Elements of Islay Peat : Review Summary
Color: Very pale gold, more like the color of straw.
Just to keep up with what is out there, I have been known to stumble across a diamond in the rough. Such is the case with the Montecristo NY Connoiseur Edition. This stick is available in the US market at quite reasonable prices. If you want to see what all the commotion is about regarding fine Cuban cigars, this smoke is just about as close as you can come to the “real thing” without going through the risk and expense of ordering from overseas and paying through the nose to do so. Were the bands removed from this smoke, I would have been hard pressed to distinguish it from its Cuban cousins. That sealed the deal for me in regards to this issue.
As I stated in my best cigar books post, proceeds from sale of books would be given back to one lucky reader in the form of a gift certificate. Here is another one. It is a gift card for $40 that can be redeemed on Amazon.com (doesn't work on .co.uk or .fr).
Just leave a comment on this post to be entered in the draw. The winner will be announced in one week, next Thursday.
PS Want to support CigarInspector.com? Just do your Amazon purchases through this link.